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Debate between sheep and grain
The "Debate between sheep and grain" or "Myth of cattle and grain" is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets in the mid to late 3rd millennium BCE.
- "Debate between sheep and grain" | 2018-04-06 | 47 Upvotes 18 Comments
Erlang Shen (二郎神), or Erlang is a Chinese God with a third truth-seeing eye in the middle of his forehead.
Er-lang Shen may be a deified version of several semi-mythical folk heroes who help regulate China's torrential floods dating variously from the Qin, Sui, and Jin dynasties. A later Buddhist source identifies him as the second son of the Northern Heavenly King Vaishravana.
In the Ming semi-mythical novels Creation of the Gods and Journey to the West, Erlang Shen is the nephew of the Jade Emperor. In the former, he assists the Zhou army in defeating the Shang. In the latter, he is the second son of a mortal and Jade emperor's sister. In the legend, he is known as the greatest warrior god of heaven.
- "Erlang Shen" | 2009-03-11 | 127 Upvotes 6 Comments
Door to Hell
The gates of hell are various places on the surface of the world that have acquired a legendary reputation for being entrances to the underworld. Often they are found in regions of unusual geological activity, particularly volcanic areas, or sometimes at lakes, caves, or mountains.
- "Door to Hell" | 2014-06-02 | 132 Upvotes 47 Comments
- "Door to Hell" | 2013-08-31 | 14 Upvotes 5 Comments
Island of California
The Island of California refers to a long-held European misconception, dating from the 16th century, that the Baja California Peninsula was not part of mainland North America but rather a large island (spelled on early maps as Cali Fornia) separated from the continent by a strait now known as the Gulf of California.
One of the most famous cartographic errors in history, it was propagated on many maps during the 17th and 18th centuries, despite contradictory evidence from various explorers. The legend was initially infused with the idea that California was a terrestrial paradise, like the Garden of Eden or Atlantis.
- "Island of California" | 2014-06-11 | 99 Upvotes 40 Comments
The kóryos (Proto-Indo-European: "army, people under arms" or "detachment, war party") refers to the hypothetical Proto-Indo-European brotherhood of warriors in which unmarried young males served for a number of years before their full integration to the host society, in the context of a rite of passage into manhood.
Subsequent Indo-European traditions and myths feature parallel linkages between property-less adolescent males, perceived as an age-class not yet fully integrated into the community of the married men; their service in a "police-army" sent away for a part of the year in the wild (where they hunted animals and raided foreign communities) and defending the host society during the remaining part of the year; their mystical self-identification with wolves and dogs as symbols of death, promiscuity, lawlessness, and warrior fury; and the idea of a liminality between invulnerability and death on one side, and youth and adulthood on the other side.
- "Kóryos" | 2021-03-08 | 59 Upvotes 22 Comments
An Instinct for Dragons
An Instinct for Dragons is a book by University of Central Florida anthropologist, David E. Jones, in which he seeks to explain the universality of dragon images in the folklore of human societies. In the introduction, Jones conducts a survey of dragon myths from cultures around the world and argues that certain aspects of dragons or dragon-like mythical creatures are found very widely. He claims that even the Inuit have a reptilian dragon-like monster, even though (living in a frigid environment unsuited for cold-blooded animals) they had never seen an actual reptile.
Jones then argues against the common hypothesis that dragon myths might be motivated by primitive discoveries of dinosaur fossils (he argues that there are widespread traits of dragons in folklore which are not observable from fossils), and claims that the common traits of dragons seem to be an amalgam of the principal predators of our ancestral hominids, which he names as the raptors, great cats (especially leopards) and pythons.
The hypothesis to which Jones conforms is that over millions of years of evolution, members of a species will evolve an instinctive fear of their predators, and he proposes ways in which these fearful images may be merged in artistic or cultural expression to create the dragon image and, perhaps, other kinds of hybrid monster.
Finally he suggests sociological reasons for why such images may be perceived differently at different stages of a culture to try to explain why Chinese dragons are considered basically good and representative of government, but the great majority (although not all) European dragons are evil and often represent chaos.
- "An Instinct for Dragons" | 2022-08-14 | 40 Upvotes 32 Comments
The sunstone (Icelandic: sólarsteinn) is a type of mineral attested in several 13th–14th-century written sources in Iceland, one of which describes its use to locate the Sun in a completely overcast sky. Sunstones are also mentioned in the inventories of several churches and one monastery in 14th–15th-century Iceland and Germany.
A theory exists that the sunstone had polarizing attributes and was used as a navigational instrument by seafarers in the Viking Age. A stone found in 2002 off Alderney, in the wreck of a 16th-century warship, may lend evidence of the existence of sunstones as navigational devices.
- "Sunstone (Medieval)" | 2022-12-26 | 95 Upvotes 7 Comments